Note: This post has been completely rewritten as of 1st October 2016.
Nine hundred and fourteen…
That’s how many plugins show up when you type “social share buttons” into the WordPress.org plugin directory. And while that number might be impressive, it doesn’t even count all the quality premium options out there.
So, if you’re looking to add social sharing to your WordPress site, you’d better block out about 8-12 hours of your day to painstakingly sort through all your options.
Or, you could always cut out the junk and just look at the best of the best (psssst – that’s what this post is all about).
I’ve done the work to give you only the best free and premium social sharing plugins so that you can pick the one that’s absolutely perfect for your site. Without wasting your valuable time and effort.
Why you need a social sharing plugin
In case you’re still on the fence about adding social share buttons to your site, consider this study:
In 2011, BrightEdge looked at over 4 million Tweets and discovered that sites with Twitter share buttons got around 700% more mentions than sites without share buttons. That’s an attention-grabbing difference, right?
With a little understanding of psychology, it’s no surprise that a combination of…
- Asking readers to share your content
- Making it easy for readers to share your content
…leads to more social shares.
And with social media usage growing every year, it’s really not a channel you can afford to ignore.
So, if you’re looking to get serious about boosting your social shares, join me as I go through all the best free and premium WordPress social share plugins.
Social Warfare – feature packed and perfect for Pinterest
When you install Social Warfare, you’ll quickly notice this:
Oodles of thought have been put into this plugin.
Sure, it creates beautiful sharing buttons that will fit the design of most sites. But nowadays, there are plenty of plugins that offer beautiful buttons.
Where Social Warfare shines is all the more detailed features.
You can position sharing icons above, below, above and below, or manually. You can also have your icons float as the user scrolls so they’re always in view.
You’ll also get click-to-tweet functionality, which is a great way to highlight important passages and boost their shareability. Your readers can click once to share your most quotable ideas.
If you’re worried about negative social proof from displaying low share counts, you can choose to only display the actual number of shares after a specified minimum threshold has been reached. This way, you only display share counts when they’re boosting your social proof.
And if Pinterest is part of your social strategy, this feature will definitely boost your shares:
Social Warfare lets you upload Pinterest-specific images. Given that Pinterest recommends tall images to boost shares, including a taller, Pinterest-specific image is a smart strategy to grow your Pinterest shares. These images only show up when shared on Pinterest, so the actual images in your blog posts won’t have their dimensions affected.
You can also add custom share messages, popular posts (by social shares), Twitter cards, and more.
With built-in support for all the major social networks, Social Warfare is one powerful social sharing plugin.
Price: From $29/year for a single site
Monarch – unique placements and massive feature list
Monarch is another sensational social sharing plugin from Elegant Themes, the same team behind Divi and Bloom.
This plugin really differentiates itself through the unique ways you can display your share buttons.
You’ve got the classics like above content, below content, on images, and floating sidebar. But Monarch bumps it up further with popup and flyin social share buttons. You can trigger these latter two options by time on page, scroll location, exit-intent, and more.
My favorite option is to display the buttons immediately after a user leaves a comment. You already know they’re engaged, so you’re much more likely to get a social share.
Like Social Warfare, you can also avoid negative social proof by setting a minimum threshold to display share counts.
And with a variety of different shapes and colors, you can customize your share buttons to perfectly fit your site.
Analytics and the ability to display follower counts for over 35 social networks round out this feature-packed social sharing plugin.
If you’re already an Elegant Themes customer, this one is a no-brainer. And even if you’re not a subscriber, Monarch is still one of the best social sharing plugins out there.
Price: Included in the $89/year Elegant Themes package
MashShare – mashable style social buttons
True to its name, MashShare helps you add eye-catching social share buttons that mimic the style found on Mashable.
If you’re concerned with eking every last millisecond of speed out of your site, you’ll love this part of MashShare:
MashShare doesn’t rely on any external scripts. Everything is loaded directly from your site, which boosts both speed and privacy.
MashShare does this by caching your share counts to load them directly from your site. You can even customize how often this cache updates.
In the free version of the plugin, you can display a total share count in conjunction with Facebook, Twitter, and Subscribe buttons.
MashShare also lets you set a manual, “virtual” share count. This essentially is a fake minimum number of shares that will display until your real share count surpasses it. While it does ensure you avoid negative social proof, I’m not a proponent of this strategy because of the dishonesty involved.
Instead, I recommend using the ‘hide share counts’ option – this will hide counts until they reach a number and avoid any negative social proof.
If you opt to add on some extensions, you can get support for additional social networks, different button placements, page view counters, and more.
Price: Free with paid extensions
SumoMe Share – detailed placements and optimizations
Share is part of the SumoMe suite of traffic-generating apps. Instead of installing a standalone social sharing plugin, you’ll install SumoMe’s WordPress plugin and activate only your desired “apps”.
My favorite feature of this plugin is “Share Smart.” When enabled, Share will automatically showcase share buttons for the highest performing social networks on a per-page basis. Different content will perform best on different networks – Share helps you optimize this.
Of course, Share wouldn’t be anything without beautiful buttons. Don’t worry! Share includes great-looking designs for its 16 supported social networks.
You also have a massive number of options for placing those buttons, including being able to choose different areas for desktop and mobile. The interface for choosing display positions couldn’t be simpler:
You can also set up detailed display rules for when your share buttons display. You can toggle buttons by page, device, and a ton more.
Share will set you up with analytics so you can see which pages and social networks get the most clicks. Combined with Share Smart, these analytics features give you a great view of how and when your content gets shared.
And since SumoMe includes other social sharing apps, you’ll always have the option to install apps that add Medium-style “highlight to tweet” functionality as well as share buttons on images.
Share offers heaps of social sharing options and customizations, especially in conjunction with other SumoMe apps.
Price: Free. Can unlock advanced features by upgrading to SumoMe Pro for $20 per month.
Cresta Social Share Counter – freemium and lightweight
Cresta Social Share Counter is a simple, freemium social share plugin.
If all you want is a share count and social share buttons without needing to set up detailed customization, Cresta Social Share Counter may just be the plugin for you.
You can position buttons above content, below content, or as a floating bar. You can also manually add share buttons via a simple shortcode.
The free version includes 9 button styles for Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
If you opt to go pro, you’ll add 8 more styles and 9 more social networks.
In addition to great-looking flat icons, Cresta includes some unique button designs. You’ll want to ensure their style works for your site before going all in.
Price: Free, with a premium version starting at €6.99 for a single site
Sharify – totally free and lightweight option
Sharify is another excellent free option. It includes some truly beautiful buttons in a lightweight package.
It features all the big social networks. You’ve got Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
But here’s where it really shines:
You’ll also get access to additional networks like Reddit, Pocket, and VKontakte. Many plugins lock these added social networks behind premium add-ons, but with Sharify, they’re all free.
The buttons are also responsive to ensure they display well on all devices. And you can choose to disable them for custom post types if you don’t want your buttons to display everywhere.
If you’re concerned about speed, Sharify caches share counts to display them without external queries.
The only place where Sharify falters is placement options. You only have the choice to display above content, below content, or manually via shortcode.
If you’re keen on adding floating share buttons or other placements, you’ll need to go with a different plugin.
But if those limited placements still fit your needs, Sharify packs some fantastic looking icons in a lightweight, quick-loading package.
Shareaholic – powerful optimization features
Shareaholic is another app suite that’s designed to help promote your content in a variety of ways. I’ll focus primarily on the social sharing aspects, but the plugin also includes a content recommendation platform.
In addition to share counts and aesthetic flat buttons, the plugin includes some really powerful features to help you customize how your buttons work.
First, you can choose where your buttons display based on post type. For example, you can set different locations for posts, pages, and your homepage. Because posts and pages often serve different functions, this feature can be quite helpful.
Next, you can choose a minimum to display share counts and enable something called Smart Sort. Similar to SumoMe Share, Smart Sort allows you to automatically order your buttons by their popularity. This ensures you’re always featuring the social networks which drive the most shares.
Another powerful feature is called Multishare. It allows readers to share to both Facebook and Twitter with a single click.
And finally, Shareaholic ups it with one more awesome feature:
You can display a window after a user shares your post which thanks them for sharing and gives them an opportunity to follow your social profiles. This is a great way to boost your followers by proactively requesting a follow from an already-engaged reader.
Shareaholic makes all this possible for more than 50 different networks.
But despite all this functionality, there’s one thing which keeps me from wholeheartedly recommending Shareaholic:
It’s bloated if all you’re looking for is social sharing.
By default, it includes enabled ads that will display after users share your content. It’s not all bad – you do get a cut of this revenue. But Shareaholic does not always make it clear that ads will be displayed on your site.
Unless you want to try Shareaholic as a new revenue stream, you’ll have to go through the plugin’s settings and root out all the ad options.
If you’re willing to wield your trusty digital machete and cut through the bloat, Shareaholic is still a great option because of how powerful its customization options are.
Which social sharing plugin should you pick?
If you want the most feature-packed plugin for the best price, pick Social Warfare for its affordable price and add-ons like Pinterest boosting dedicated images, click-to-tweet, and custom messages.
If you want popups and flyins, pick Monarch for its unique flyin and popup button placements.
If you love the Mashable style button display, MashShare is built for you.